Stop sending mixed signals on discipline – Farley

Veteran educator Matthew Farley is calling on the Ministry of Education to stop sending mixed signals and instead send a strong, clear message to students and their parents that violence against teachers will not be tolerated.   

Farley told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that education officials must not allow the authority of teachers to be undermined by students, and insisted that action must be taken to halt the practice before it gets out of control.

Speaking in the wake of an incident this week at the Ellerslie Secondary School where a student allegedly spat at and kicked a teacher in her genitals, the retired principal accused education authorities of being soft on the issue of discipline in schools.

“I think that a strongly worded message must come from the Ministry and not a statement that sends mixed signals. I think for sometime we have been sending a lot of mixed signals with what is happening in respect to our schools. We have to have a clear position that under no conditions we will tolerate student-on-teacher violence [or] student-on-student violence,” Farley said.

Following a meeting yesterday with management and staff of Ellerslie school, the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union and the Barbados Union of Teachers called for the expulsion of the student.

However, Minister of Education Ronald Jones also said yesterday that the matter must be investigated thoroughly and the correct process followed before action is taken.

“You can’t just expel…. Every child has a right to be heard and defend itself just as every teacher has a right to he heard and defend him or herself,” Jones declared.

Farley told Barbados TODAY he supported the minister’s position, saying while he did not believe the child should be expelled, he felt it would be difficult for her to continue her education at the Black Rock, St Michael institution.

He recommended that the 13-year-old student undergo psychiatric or psychological evaluation in order to determine whether she should continue to attend a mainstream secondary school, or if alternative arrangements should be made.

“I don’t think she should be just dumped or cast off as a nobody. We need to investigate her domestic situation to see exactly what might predispose a student to lash out in this type of way. [However], I don’t think that it would be prudent for her to be allowed to continue to attend that same school and have the teacher working in the same space as her,” the former Graydon Sealy Secondary School principal said.

Farley said when he headed the Garrison, St Michael school he had made it clear that violence against teachers would not be tolerated. He also recalled that in one case a student was expelled for attacking a teacher.

“And the teachers knew that they got the support of the management of the school in these situations because anytime that teachers feel they are not being supported by the principal or even by the Ministry of Education we will have problems and the students will think that they are in charge,” he explained. (AH)

4 Responses to Stop sending mixed signals on discipline – Farley

  1. harry turnover April 16, 2016 at 7:31 am

    Farley wha you sending mixed signals in what you are saying too. On one hand you say don’t expell and on the other hand you are saying you don’t think that it would be prudent for her to be allowed to continue to attend that same school and have the teacher working in the same space as her. ”
    That BULLY should NOT be just transferred to another School as punishment…..SHE SHOULD BE EXPELLED when all is said and done .

    • NM April 17, 2016 at 4:09 pm

      Farley stated that she should not be expelled but rather undergo assessment as to whether she should be in a ‘normal’ school or an alternative school. Also the Springer student was not expelled she was transferred.

  2. Sarifa Patel April 16, 2016 at 9:29 am

    We cannot allow indiscipline to remain in the schools no matter what. If a criminal is caught he/she is sent to jail. The student in this case should be charged and the appropriate punishment be measured out. We are not disciplining our children at home and they take it on the outside
    She is represented of the home from whence she came. In all my years at school I was never in detention or even had to write lines because I knew my parents would never put up with bad behavior and plus I had great respect for those in authority.
    And for God’s sake do something now before someone gets killed.

  3. Rico Hoyte April 16, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    So a girl from Springer gets “expelled” for a wrapper and this one who assaulted a teacher gets………The education system is so screwed up now that left is up and down is across. Where you have children who can attack teachers and the teachers can’t do anything doesn’t that or shouldn’t that send up a red flag? The honourable ministers says that “……Every child has a right to be heard and defend itself just as every teacher has a right to he heard and defend him or herself.” If a parent goes to the ministry accusing a teacher of unfairing/ lashing etc his/her child little or no inquiry is given and the teacher is given no support by the ministry and put to the vultures. Yet here we have something truly wrong and you are hearing all this folly? I would like the “ministry”- if you can call it that anymore- to show the same level of impartiality to students and their parents to be shown towards teachers. This can’t be allowed to continue


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